FIFA clears Qatar, Russia World Cups but its own investigator disputes findings

Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:38am EST
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By Brian Homewood

LONDON (Reuters) - FIFA cleared Russia and Qatar on Thursday of wrongdoing in their bids to host the World Cup, but the former U.S. prosecutor who led the investigation by soccer's governing body said it had misrepresented his findings.

A German judge who ruled on behalf of the soccer body's ethics committee said he found no grounds sufficient to re-open the bidding process for the 2018 cup in Russia and the 2022 cup in Qatar.

But former U.S. attorney Michael Garcia, hired by FIFA to head an investigation into the bids that lasted more than a year, said he would appeal against the committee's conclusion.

"Today's decision by the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the investigatory chamber's report," said Garcia, who will take his case to another FIFA department, the appeals committee.

FIFA and Qatar World Cup organizers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the tiny Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament. Qatar has little domestic soccer tradition and its desert climate is widely seen as too hot for the game to be played in summer when the cup is normally staged.

Qatar has also been criticized over its treatment of migrant workers in the construction industry. It denies any wrongdoing and says it would be good for the world's most popular sporting event to have it staged in the soccer-mad Middle East.

Russia was awarded the 2018 cup on the same day in a dual bidding process that ended in 2010.

Garcia was hired by FIFA and spent more than a year combing through allegations of bribes paid and favors given to the international soccer officials who made the decisions, not just by the winning countries but by other bidders as well.   Continued...